Taking bikers to task
Crime suppression unit targeting Relic Riders, other ‘outlaw’ supporters
Photos of motorcycles parked in front of a Whitbourne gas station were taken on a recent Sunday following a scenic ride involving dozens of bikers.
It was the end of the annual Baccalieu Trail ride organized by Carbonear based motorcycle club the Relic Riders. Participants were members of various motorcycle and riding clubs from all over the province.
Lined up on the walkway behind the bikes in the photos were seven police officers in full uniform, including bulletproof vests. These police officers were members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) joint task force known as the crime suppression team.
Locals from the Carbonear area have taken to social media to voice their displeasure with the excessive number of law enforcement personnel that were in the region for the July 25-26 weekend. Some felt the club was being targeted because they were bikers.
RNC Const. Steve Curnew told The Compass last Friday the event was targeted because of known affiliation and support of outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) from the Relic Riders. They wear a patch that says “Bacchus Supporter.” The Bacchus club is known as a one-percenter organ- ization, traditionally affiliated with not obeying laws.
The Relic Riders’ 13th annual Show N’ Shine event took place the day before the Baccalieu Trail ride. The event at Paddy’s Garden in Carbonear takes donations from those in attendance, with proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
This year, there was a heavy police presence along Valley Road, where Paddy’s Garden is located, during the event. The crime suppression team was monitoring the event. The following day, the group began its ride at 1 p.m. and the suppression team was there.
It was during this time that tickets were issued, but concerns were raised that the reasons behind the tickets were not all legitimate. One biker, who wished not to be identified, said he was ticketed for improper use of a motorcycle because he lifted one hand off the handlebars. Another forgot his eye protection and was pulled over only a few metres from his house.
“I don’t think people have a problem with the RCMP or RNC doing their job,” Relic Riders president Bruno Reichel explained, noting some feel it’s more like harassment than enforcement.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Boyd Merrill confirmed 29 tickets were issued during the Relic Riders events throughout Trinity Conception, with 25 of them listed as provincial statute charges (unspecified), three impaired driving charges and one 24-hour suspension.
Leading up to the event, RCMP and RNC issued a statement that they were preparing for an influx of OMG members entering the province for two outlaw motorcycle runs, one in central and one on the Avalon.
The preparations sparked concern that illegal activity or organized crime was going to be an issue at the events, but specifics were not mentioned as to where the rides would take place in Central Newfoundland and the Avalon. It is still unknown if the Relic Riders event was one of those mentioned in the release.
Reichel wants to tell the public what his organization does and to knock down the misconception that all bikers are criminals.
“There are a lot of bikers in the world and, of course, there are bad bikers,” Reichel explained. “There’s a lot of bad people in all organizations, including (some) police officers.”
He showed the Compass reporter around the group’s clubhouse, including the boardroom where they hold meetings. On the walls around the table are awards and plaques presented to the group from various organizations and motorcycle clubs.
One item in particular was a big accomplishment for the club. In 2012, the Relic Riders received a JDRF award for volunteer of the year.
On the board room table was a two page list of local businesses that have supported the club for their events. The community has shown they are behind the group by their generosity, Reichel said.
Out of province bikers began arriving last week into Port aux Basques. Dozens were slapped with tickets, although what they were for was not revealed.
Curnew said the intention of bringing the police out in full force is just to deter illegal activity and potentially stop a group from setting up shop here.
Merrill echoed those concerns in a statement last week.
“The motorcycle gangs often try to mask or disguise their real intention, which is criminal activity,” he said. “When they have events within the province, they’re really networking while they’re here to expand their activities criminally within Newfoundland and Labrador, and the message is loud and clear: they’re not welcome.”
But Reichel sees some flaws in the way the police handled releasing the information. The biggest concern he had was the explanation on what the bikers were doing in the province.
“It’s borderline slander,” he explained, noting police raised concerns about drug trafficking.
But Curnew disagreed, saying the only intention is to inform the bikers there is a heavy police presence around these events. Anyone with any affiliation with or support for an outlaw group will be monitored, he continued. This would include flying or wearing the colours of their groups.
“Not that we have concerns for the public. We believe they are here to network and expand,” he added.
According to Reichel, the affiliation the Relic Riders have with outlaw clubs is the same as they have with all other groups — mutual respect. They interact with each other, attend each other’s events and contribute to their fundraisers. And Reichel notes there is never discussion amongst them concerning any type of illegal activity.
But as of now, the joint task force will continue its crack down on all motorcycle clubs and anyone they deem affiliated with outlaw gangs.
The Relic Riders will continue to support their comrades from other clubs and help out around the community any time they get the opportunity. They also say they will steer clear of illegal activity.
“No one wants to see the biker scene turn into chaos and organized crime,” Reichel said.
The Relic Riders logo on the wall of the boardroom at the Carbonear club house.